Snowbirds returning to SWFL can get COVID-19 vaccine

Snowbirds visiting their homes in Southwest Florida, who meet the criteria for the current rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, can get vaccinated. Some people don’t agree with that, believing full-time residents should be vaccinated first. We spoke to a snowbird who says he will wait his turn.

Joe Meisenzahl and his wife, Paula, are snowbirds from New York, who both want the vaccine just as much as anyone else.

“I can get back to seeing all my grandkids and hugging them more than I do now,” Meisenzahl said.

The Meisenzahls saw the long lines and heard about the clogged phone lines for reservations in Lee County.

Since they only live in Lee County three months out of the year, they say they are willing to wait for their shot.

“I’d prefer that the Florida residents who live here 12 months a year get it first,” Meisenzahl said. “I just didn’t want to take it away from other people because I know I wouldn’t be happy if I was in New York and somebody from another city or country or state came and said, ‘I want to get my vaccine before you.’”

Snowbirds Bert Mitchell and his wife are on lockdown in Canada. They want to get the vaccine in Lee County, where they live five months out of the year, instead of waiting to get the vaccine in late spring or early summer in Canada.

“I represent a lot of Canadians that go down there, and what we are waiting for is to get a time slot that we can get into,” Mitchell said. “And then we can go through the expense of shipping cars, flying down.”

Even though Mitchell says he understands why people who live Florida full-time want the vaccine first, he thinks it’s important that everyone gets the vaccine.

“It is a case of getting the shot as early as possible,” Mitchell said.

Lee County told us it’s prohibited from turning anyone away for a vaccine, even if they are from another state or country, because the vaccine distribution is a federal program.

Florida reports nearly 2,000 people have already received their second dose of the vaccine, and nearly 290,000 people have received their first dose of the vaccine.


RESOURCE: WINK News is working by the minute on a daily basis to bring our coverage areas in Southwest Florida the latest COVID-19 vaccine information from the counties you live in.

Visit our COVID-19 vaccine schedules and information for SWFL story for rolling vaccine updates.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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